It really is a soap opera. As predicted by a number of people, including august bloggers Grumpy Goat and SeaBee, the national identity card saga has now entered a glorious new phase. The deadline is not being extended, according to Gulf News (whose reporter, Binsal Abdul Kader must have had a really hard time taking notes whilst keeping his laughter under control): people will be able to apply for the card after the deadline but this is not, and the Emirates Identity Authority would like to make this quite clear, an extension to the deadline.
You can apply after the deadline, but the deadline is not being extended.
That this incredible piece of double-speak is not met with tides of withering scorn by GN is a testament to the magnificent restraint that so many have frequent cause to admire the paper for.
The ‘reprieve’ will entail ‘certain inconveniences’ for those applying after the deadline, EIDA’s Ahmad Al Zarouni warns Gulf News, darkly hinting at dire consequences for non-compliance.
As we are told by Monty Python in his most magnificent film, The Life of Brian: “Worse? How can it get much worse?”
One can only imagine what he means! Will they stop the website working on the 1st January so that you can’t apply? Stop stocking forms at the post offices so that you can’t pick them up easily? Hide the registration centres so that you can’t find them? Mess up the registration and appointment system so badly that you have to queue for hours just to get the right to take an appointment to process your application? Under-staff the entire system so badly that there are queues of hundreds at 5am every day? Those would be dire consequences indeed, wouldn’t they?
Gulf News’ story also refers to the popularity of the... gasp, wait for this... new application application. The application application is a PC application that lets you fill out an application so that you can apply for an appointment to make an application. The application application doesn't let you make an appointment for an application: you still have to apply for an application appointment even if you have an application filled using the application application.
I do hope that's clear.
How much sense does it make for this process to be entirely online? For instance, we could all type in our own applications (which would be parsed by some relatively simple software), attach a passport photo and send ‘em online. They could then be checked and the cards issued and collected, when they’re ready, by each individual applicant in person to verify the identity of the applicant. That would be perfect, no? No queues etc etc.
But oh no. The application application lets you type in your data and then print out a PDF document that contains that information and some 3D bar codes so that you can queue up for four hours and get an appointment in two months' time for someone to scan the data into another system using a bar code scanner. Because it’s important to introduce a 15 minute physical process rather than do it online and avoid all the queues.
The application, incidentally, contains some quaint things. You’re asked for your English Grand Father Name and your English Famous Name. You’re also asked for your Clan and Tribe. Clan McNabb, laddie! Clan McNabb!
By the way, just to save you the frustration of having to look for it like I did, if you do decide to use the application application, you’ll find the United Kingdom in the drop down menus is situated between Gabon and Georgia. I’m not sure why. It’s probably something to do with the state of our economy.
Why heads aren’t rolling over this is a mystery to me. Really.